Labor Brokers are conning Indian tech workers into indentured servitude…
One of them is software engineer Gobi Muthuperiasamy, who came to the United States from the southern India city of Madurai in 2007 to work for one labor broker. In 2010, while he was contracted to a project at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, he decided to switch labor brokers, to Softech International Resources Inc.
The rural Georgia staffing firm boasts online of providing tech workers to IBM, Bank of America, Verizon and other companies. Softech agreed to pay Muthuperiasamy $51,000 a year to continue improving Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation database. Instead, he changed his mind, taking a better-paying job in Ohio.
When Softech sued him in 2011 for more than $20,000, saying he had agreed to it when he signed his employment contract, Muthuperiasamy was astonished.
“You should treat people like human beings,” the 32-year-old said, “not like animals, creatures that you make money off of.”
He decided to fight back, spending more than three years and $25,000 in legal costs. That makes Muthuperiasamy unusual: In the vast majority of court cases reviewed by CIR, workers naively and ineffectively represented themselves, didn’t show up for their court date or gave up and returned to India.
Softech is a case in point. Owned by Krishnan Kumar, Softech has filed 32 lawsuits against employees in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Many of those lawsuits name workers who complain that they quit because they weren’t being paid. Yet most of the workers ended up on the losing end, through settlements or mediations or in court.
I’m a software developer. I know the wage ranges. I know the job market. There is a shortage of developers. We can command higher salaries because we are in high demand. Put a resume online for a database developer and recruiters will call you.
51K/yr for a database software developer in this hiring environment before taxes is very, very cheap. On the job search and labor info site “Glassdoor.com” 57k is listed as a minimum for that role. 80k is the national average. That means 51K is intern or recent collage grad in a rural low cost of living who had to settle prices. The labor broker is most definitely charging at least twice that. I’m not surprised Muthuperiasamy looked for a new job. He was being severely under valued.
Yet software engineer Muthuperiasamy tried in vain to get the US government to help. He complained to the Department of Labor, Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service that Softech was abusing the legal system by pursuing him for quitting.
The official response: a letter from the Labor Department saying it would not investigate Softech because the company technically never had employed Muthuperiasamy – even though Softech’s lawsuit was based on him being an employee who left the labor broker in the lurch.
“They said it was not a DOL problem,” Muthuperiasamy said.
Here is the DOL’s mission statement:
To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
It sure sounds like it’s the DOL’s problem.
“Not our problem” is something no one wants to hear from any government department. Non-political management and political appointees leading these organizations need to learn that soon.
Surprisingly little hiring in government is political, but a lot of government firing and downsizing is. Outrage is embodied by hash tags and white on red “breaking news” 24 hour news channel tickers. This kind of “not-it” bureaucracy will be targeted by conservatives and abandoned by liberals.